Category: South Africa (page 12 of 21)

Jacques Kallis would genuinely score more runs than you with his eyes closed

We've warmed to Jacques Kallis quite a bit of lateYesterday, we wrote about Steyn and Tendulkar, but there’s another modern great on display in that match.

Like Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis seems to have reached an even loftier plane in middle age. You’ll need to go to another website to see the statistics about his recent form, but take it from us, they’re phenomenal.

In this innings, it was 64-4 and then 98-5; India were on one of those rolls where the match suddenly goes from nought to sixty in a split second; and he had a knacked up side muscle. None of this mattered. Jacques Kallis was going to score a hundred.

Comparisons are odious but informative and it’s worth noting that although Sachin Tendulkar has about 3,000 more Test runs than Kallis, the latter’s average is superior (57.43 compared to 56.54). For a man who’s only recorded one double hundred in his Test career, that average speaks of unparalleled consistency, even if it also betrays an occasional tendency to play the anchor when that role is unwarranted.

Throw in the “reluctant” acquisition of 270 Test wickets and an appearance in the world’s first 100% great advert and you’ve got a very special cricketer.

Today though, it was all about his immovability at a key moment in a crucial and difficult match. That’s worth more than the numbers.

Dale Steyn doesn’t have a loosener

It’s yet another amazing thing about Dale Steyn that he’s pretty damn likely to slice in and arc the first ball of the day past the batsman’s outside edge. He doesn’t really do looseners.

Our own approach to starting work is more like that of Peter Gibbons, who explains how he likes to just ‘space out’ for about an hour at the start of his working day.

“I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.”

Dale’s the keen guy at work. The guy who’s really eager and ‘tries’.

But it’s okay to be that guy in his line of work, because his line of work is massively cool.

Dale’s a fast bowler.

Dale Steyn versus Sachin Tendulkar in an abbreviated title bout

Tendulkar wins this roundThere’s a great Test series taking place in South Africa at the moment and we’re gutted that we’re missing so much of it because of the Ashes.

It’s like when you get carried away ordering takeaway. The leftovers won’t keep for a week, so you’ve got to make some tough decisions about what gets eaten and what doesn’t. However, while we’ve had a hell of a lot of Ashes, we’ve always got room for Dale Steyn and Sachin Tendulkar.

While Morne Morkel’s a 5-90 then 0-90 kind of a bowler. Dale Steyn’s more 3-50, 4-80, 5-90. Off-days are very rare and he’s been slashing at India almost constantly for three Tests now.

In many ways, Tendulkar is similar. Test hundreds 50 and 51 against this bowling attack in its home conditions tells you pretty much all you need to know about the man.

If we have one minor gripe, it’s that it’s only a three-Test series. Wait. Did we say ‘minor gripe’? We meant ‘colossal ball-aching issue that just about makes us want to cry’.

Dale Steyn: Lord Megachief of Gold 2010

It was MS Dhoni in 2009. It’s Dale Steyn in 2010.

Sachin Tendulkar ran him close, hitting seven Test hundreds, but it can’t be a batsman every year. Graeme Swann took more Test wickets, but 44 of them were against Bangladesh and a spattered Pakistan side that barely ever looked like limping to 200.

Dale Steyn, however. Dale Steyn has been an unqualified success. The Test figures (and who cares about any others?) are 60 wickets at 21.41 in 11 matches. Those are statistics from a long gone era, but that’s barely half the story.

Strike rate

So far, in his Test career, Dale Steyn has taken a wicket every 39.7 balls. Shane Bond and Steve Finn are in the same ballpark, but they can only boast of 133 wickets between them. Steyn has taken 232.

He is, quite simply, the most destructive bowler of modern times. In the all-time list, only George Lohmann has taken 100 or more wickets at a faster rate and he played in the 1890s.

Here, there and everywhere

Lohmann played on a grand total of nine grounds over the course of his Test career. Dale Steyn played on 11 in 2010.

He went through England at Johannesburg; India at Nagpur; West Indies at Port of Spain; Pakistan at Abu Dhabi; and through India again at Durban. If Dale Steyn played a World XI on the moon, you’d bet on him getting a five-for. Even if there weren’t any fielders.

The Nagpur demolition was the most memorable. We’re brought up to believe that you need great spinners to succeed in India, but after South Africa had made 558-6, Steyn went and took 7-51, unzipping his flies and urinating in the face of conventional wisdom.

So that’s why he’s Lord Megachief of Gold?

No, not really. Dale Steyn is Lord Megachief of Gold 2010 because he makes every Test match he plays in exciting.

When wickets aren’t falling in a Test, the match isn’t progressing. You can score as many runs as you like, but TEST CRICKET IS ABOUT TAKING WICKETS. Steyn drives Test matches. Without him, they’re far less likely to go somewhere.

Plus, he means it. He bloody means it. During the Cape Town Test against England in January, we wrote:

“If you saw Dale Steyn’s celebration when he dismissed Kevin Pietersen on day four, that was quite something; that was a fast bowler on the verge of combustion, so full of adrenaline-fuelled power that he could have towed the continents back into place to reform Pangaea.”

He is hell-bent on taking wickets and it shows. That is watchable in itself. In the same match, he bowled the most spectacular spell to Paul Collingwood with a new ball. It was mystifyingly unsuccessful, but as a passage of play, it was as memorable as anything that’s happened all year.

No-one is doing more for Test cricket than Dale Steyn right now.

What have India made of their first Test innings in South Africa?

Dale Steyn experiences balls-related incident

A balls. They have made a balls of their first Test innings in South Africa. 136-9 is a rubbish score for a side that relies so heavily on its batting, whatever the conditions.

Is ‘Steyn and Morkel’ a thing yet, like ‘Wasim and Waqar’ or ‘Lillee and Thomson’? It’s probably a fair way off those in terms of reputation, but it must at least be a thing.

Hopefully Sreesanth and Sharma (definitely not a thing) will do summat similar tomorrow and we’ll get one of those hell-for-leather careering Test matches where someone should be man of the match for making 32 not out in the fourth innings.

Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel add chilli, thyme and allspice

Dale Steyn aims two hands at oneAny sign that fast bowling’s back in fashion is good, but does the victim have to be the West Indies? Dale Steyn took 5-29 and Morne Morkel took 4-19. Great stuff, but you feel bad for who’s on the receiving end.

It’s like eating lamb. It’s delicious, but it’s best to tuck in without thinking about the woolly people who have lost their lives so that you might enjoy your barbecue.

Why can’t fish be tastier? Fish are the vegetables of the sea. Eating fish doesn’t lead to much guilt despite the fact that we feel guilty for pretty much everything. Sometimes we feel guilty for nothing. We’ll just wake up with a sense of guilt hanging over us and resign ourself to enduring it for the rest of the day. Those are good days. The feeling distracts us from our default feeling of worthlessness.

Last ball thriller between India and South Africa

Didn’t watch it.

Don’t much feel like reading about it.

And the number one Test side is…

Two frigging Tests. Whose bright idea was it to have a two-Test series between India and South Africa?

Don’t tell us that originally there were no Tests scheduled. If you fancy a sandwich and there’s no bread in the house, you don’t go out and buy a single slice of granary. No-one in their right mind would sell it to you for a start. You know why? Because selling things in stupidly small quantities is demented.

Two slices is the bare minimum for a sandwich. Three matches is the absolute bare minimum for a Test series. If you want a top sandwich, get a good, crusty roll. If you want a top Test series, play five matches.

So now we have the situation where two fine Test sides will battle it out to see who’s best at one-day cricket. It’s like Ali and Frazier playing Ludo for the world heavyweight title or Bjorn Borg playing John McEnroe at shove ha’penny to win Wimbledon.

We’re pissed off.

The South African way of taking wickets in India

The South Africans generally get their wickets by having fast bowlers knock the stumps over. This is not the way it’s supposed to work in India. Aside from Dale Steyn’s efforts this week, there was the 2008 match where India were dismissed for 76.

On that occasion, Steyn and Ntini clean bowled Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly. The fact that half the Indian side were all knackered from doing IPL promotion the night before perhaps contributed to the fact that they were all out in a symbolic 20 overs exactly, but still.

For a lot of sides, taking wickets in India seems impossible and they struggle to come up with a plan. The pitches don’t offer much bounce and they tend to take spin. You have three options:

  1. Pick another spinner
  2. Devise unusual tactics
  3. Just plough on as if nothing’s any different

The first option’s often disastrous, because while the pitches are spin-friendly, the batsmen are not. The second option’s often painful, because unusual tactics are generally ones that don’t work that well, otherwise people would use them more. Nasser Hussain’s ploys of off-side wides to Sachin Tendulkar and Ashley Giles bowling a leg-side line to everyone else were most painful for those watching.

South Africa have gone for option three and there’s a lot to be said for that. Make allowances for conditions, but don’t allow them to dictate to you. Play to your strengths.

By the gods of Olympus, Dale Steyn can swing a cricket ball

Dale Steyn - more than his fair share of sinewsStumps. Everywhere.

Shaun Tait might have notched 160kph this week, but Dale Steyn’s shown that if you add swing to the mix, you’re sorted. In fact, he didn’t even need to resort to scorching pace against India. It’s good to have scorching pace to fall back on when you aren’t swinging the ball this way and that and taking eight wickets in a day.

Not many fast bowlers take eight wickets in a day in India. That’s mostly because of the pitches, but Dale Steyn doesn’t rely on the pitch to take wickets. He swings the ball and puts it right up there where the batsman has a go at it. Later in the innings, he does exactly the same thing only with reverse swing. Bouncers are rare and lethal because of that.

Indian fans might not agree right now, but the cricket world needs Dale Steyn. Great bowlers are a rarity and Steyn’s proving himself great.

Next time someone calls you ‘a Steyn on this planet’, take it as a compliment.

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